Lee Ann Jolly, Ph.D.

Jolly Bodies

In 2017, I combined my Ph.D. in physiology, my love for all people and a decade of experience in exercise programming to bring something incredibly unique to the fitness industry: formal education, inclusion, warm fuzzies and imagination. Jolly Bodies started out as a small support group on Facebook, and has now grown into a community of 2,000 online members. Jolly Bodies connects with clients virtually through the JB digital studio, in-person through small group training called the JB lab and at City Fit’s outdoor weekend classes.


How I knew this was my passion

When I was in the midst of my doctoral training, I had a light bulb moment when I realized that I could combine everything I was learning in molecular physiology with my experience in fitness programming.

Biggest challenges in my career

The biggest challenges that I find troublesome in the fitness industry include the constant hypersexualization of women's bodies, the spread of pseudoscience and the unfortunate reality that the biological meaning of fitness is often overshadowed by arbitrary beauty standards.

My first job and what it taught me

My first job was working in a sandwich shop. It taught me that if you're too big to serve, you're too small to lead.

Nonprofit I wish more people knew about

Arkansas Women's Outreach is an organization that works collaboratively with communities and health care providers to provide homeless women in Arkansas with access to health education and feminine hygiene products.

What keeps me coming back to my job every day

Without hesitation, our community and the opportunity to keep spreading love each day. Our classes are filled with memories of the struggles and triumphs -- in fitness and in life -- of the humans we have the privilege of serving each day.

Best career moment so far

The best moments are when people in our classes experience the joy of being accepted for who they are and realize that their value isn't based on how many squats they can do. Witnessing that personal epiphany never gets old.

A skill I never expected to need in this field

I never expected teaching myself to build a website or video edit! My doctoral training taught me how to mess up, optimize and start again over and over. It helped me develop the moxie I needed to get things done!

One practice I use to maintain my mental health

I try to unplug from anything related to my business for one day a week. I'm much more productive and recharged working longer hours six days per week versus stretching myself thin and burning out for seven days a week.

Best advice I ever received

"If you don't A-S-K, you don't G-E-T." Women are indoctrinated with the idea that we shouldn't ask for more when it comes to promotions or negotiations. If you want a seat at the table, ask for it. Know your worth.

The first thing I do to course-correct when I hit a wall

The three M’s: Move, Mom or Munch. Hitting the proverbial wall is inevitable, so when I get stuck, I usually go for a walk, call my mom or find a good snack to enjoy!



Little Rock

I can't start my day until

I've had black coffee with 3 tablespoons of International Delight's chocolate caramel creamer. It's a whole thing.


I love to paint, catch up on the latest scientific discoveries and play with my two pibbles Monica Gellar and Phoebe Buffay

Binge watch

“Disney Food Blog” on YouTube

Last good read

“Emotional Intelligence” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Favorite meal in town

Blue crab rolls at Sushi Cafe

Best recent local discovery

Sarah Pilcher and her brainchild Yogathon Arkansas

Latest splurge

A trip to Disney World

Most-used app


Dream vacation

Disneyland in Shanghai, China